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Taking stock of numbers

18 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 11 December 2012

Numbers are a relatively modern invention. The best estimates suggest they are only about 10,000 years old, yet numbers have come to dominate our lives. We now attempt to measure virtually everything using them.

But numbers are only meaningful if they are accurate, as Argentina is discovering. There's growing protest on the streets, driven in part by an economy that many say is grinding to a halt. Opponents of populist, left-leaning President Cristina Kirchner say she's covering up how bad it is by manipulating the numbers. Ed Butler reports from Buenos Aires.

Nate Silver, the man who successfully forecast the result of every state in this year's US presidential election, tells us why we can't count on statistics.

Some say there are benefits in wasting what is arguably our most precious commodity - time. They say a bit of idle dreaming makes you more efficient at work. Our regular commentator, Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times, has been mastering the skill of wasting time.

(Image: A stock exchange board, Credit: AFP/Getty Images)



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